In less than two weeks, on the opening day of Major League Baseball's first-year player draft, Oklahoma State left-hander Andrew Heaney will be selected in the first round.
Discuss the position and debate the destination, but make no mistake, Heaney, with his effortless cannon and smooth delivery, has become a consensus first-round pick.
“(He is the) best college lefty in the draft,” ESPN.com baseball insider Keith Law wrote recently. “Could go in the single digits.”
The selection won't come with statewide celebration, like that of Justin Blackmon or Brandon Weeden in last month's NFL Draft, yet Heaney's success story mirrors that of the two homegrown stars.
He grew up in Oklahoma City, lettered four years at Putnam City High and dreamed of playing at OSU long before he starred there.
Now, after a stellar career with the Cowboys, including a 20-9 record, Heaney is nearing the next stage of his career — taking the talents he groomed in Oklahoma to the professional world. On the strength of a dominant junior season that features an 8-1 record and a 1.63 earned run average that tops all conference starters, Heaney is The Oklahoman's Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, highlighting the paper's annual All-Big 12 Team.
For Heaney, it's been quite a ride, if not always a smooth one.
Heaney wasn't always viewed as a top prospect because, frankly, he didn't always look like one.
“When he got here, he was rail-thin,” Cowboys coach Frank Anderson said. “I think he weighed 147 pounds at our initial physical.”
So OSU's coaching staff issued Heaney marching orders to the weight room, where, for a gangly freshman thrust into the Division I weight training world, things can be a bit awkward. Like when his teammates were testing how many times they could bench 135 pounds. And Heaney had to politely decline an attempt at an impossible weight.
“Yeah, it was a little uncomfortable,” Heaney said. “That first semester was pretty tough because I still had a lot of room to make up to even get to the point where I could have a lift partner because everyone was so far ahead of me.”
But the pitching talent was always there. And as former teammate Brad Propst said, “We were all wondering who this skinny kid was, until we saw him throw a baseball.”